Itâs that time of year again â the time to make New Yearâs resolutions. But instead of just going the traditional route â pledging to join a gym to work off holiday excesses â why not opt to give your career a boost as well? Resolve to improve your communication skills.
Yes, you read that last sentence correctly! How you communicate with othersâwhether in person, in writing, or onlineâhas a tremendous impact on your career. It affects every aspect of your working life, no matter how good your specialized skills are in your particular field.
For the coming year, make these communication resolutions to enhance your career:
1. Resolve to keep your phone off the table when meeting with someone. Having your phone visible tells the other person, âI am so ready to drop you and connect with someone else.â Itâs important to give people your full attention.
2. Take a presentation skills class. Work on becoming a better presenter. You need to get your point across. And if you do so effectively, not only does your audience gain information, but you look good.
3. Use âreply allâ only when it is necessary for everyone on the list to see the email. In my writing classes, many participants say they really dislike receiving unnecessary emails. If you donât want to receive unwanted emails, you need to stop overusing âreply all,â also.
4. Be smart with social media. Donât allow social media to hurt your career. If your sites suggest you drink too much, curse a lot, or post nasty comments, people may question whether they want to work with you or hire you.
5. Learn to command the room. You want to stand out — in a good way. Dress appropriately. Walk into a room as though you belong there. Stand tall. Donât fidget. Shake hands correctly and make small talk. When nervous, say something positive to yourself. Before she enters a meeting room, one woman I coached says to herself, âI own this meeting!â
6. Offer your opinion. If you donât speak up in meetings, your boss, colleagues, or clients wonât know what you know. And speak early in the meeting. The longer you wait to talk, the harder it is likely to become.
7. Monitor your volume. Make sure you speak loudly enough to be heard. Many people donât. Do not underestimate how powerful a strong voice can be â but donât confuse powerful with shouting. You want your opinions, thoughts and ideas to register with others.
8. Apply for awards. Winning professional or community awards helps to build your credibility, and can be an important way to promote yourself. To be eligible for many awards, other people have to recommend you; for some, however, you can nominate yourself. This is not an obnoxious thing to do. You still have to earn the award.
9. Be friendly and helpful. People want to work with others they know, like and trust. It may seem obvious, but too often people neglect the little things that build relationships. Greet people you know and also those you donât know. Smile. Say âpleaseâ and âthank you.â Help people when you can. Make connections for others, both online and in person.
10. Send thank-you notes. In the New Year, start showing appreciation for the kindness of others. If you receive a gift, visit the home of a boss or colleague, or are a guest at a meal, you must send a note. You also need to send a thank-you note after a job interview.
These 10 potential resolutions provide numerous possibilities for improving your career. There are many more communication suggestions discussed in my book, The Communication Clinic: 99 Proven Cures for the Most Common Business Mistakes (McGraw Hill, 2017).
Pachter & Associates provides seminars and coaching on communication, business writing, presentation skills, professional presence, and etiquette. For additional information, please contact Joyce Hoff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 856.751.6141.